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Reclaim Your Gadget/Life Balance

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In This Series

If you feel like your closest relationship in life is with your mobile phone – and that the phone is the dominant partner – you’re in good company. France is even on the verge of providing workers with a legal ‘right to disconnect’ after research showed that 52% of managers work at home between 8pm and midnight. Considering the average person checks their mobile more than 200 times a day it’s a wonder it’s not 92%. So learn to tame your gadget habit without sacrificing productivity.

Calls

A recent study found that calls are only the sixth most used function on a mobile yet when any phone on your desk rings it often shoves its way to the head of the queue, interrupting the flow of what you were doing and breaking your concentration.

Solution: It’s hard to ask people to not call, but contribute to the serenity of nations by making sure you aren’t the one making needless calls. Only phone a colleague if you’re sure that it will resolve an issue quicker than if you send an email or message. Which leads to…

Texts

Scientists studying mobile phone addiction found that people spend more than an hour and a half on texts on average each day. WhatsApp can be a very useful tool, especially for making group arrangements at conferences, but the bulk of your messages will only slow you down.

Solution: If it’s not a work phone, put it face down on silent or tuck it away in a drawer. If you need it for work only respond to social texts or WhatsApp messages at designated times, perhaps during an – ahem – “bathroom break”.

Email

Fortune magazine says that office workers spend a staggering 28% of their working day in their inbox and send an average of 40 emails a day.

Solution: Unsubscribe from lists you don’t need – they’re a time sink. And don’t waste minutes filing emails away in tidy colour-coded folders, it’s easier to just run a search. Many workplaces now have instant-messaging groups on services such as Slack to quickly ask timely questions and get responses.

Social media

The typical British person devotes 100 minutes a day to the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the dozen others that will launch between the start of this sentence and the end of it. And let’s be honest, not every post or tweet is mission-critical.

Solution: Every minute you spend on say, Instagram during work hours is probably a minute you’ll need to claw back at lunchtime or in the evening. To reduce this time, turn off those apps’ notifications so you’re not alerted every time a friend posts a picture of their avocado on toast. It will also let you enjoy your evenings a bit more if you’re not stressing that your friends are having a more fun time than you are.

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